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Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia – 05 »« Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia – 03

Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia – 04

「密林の呼び声」 (Mitsurin no Yobigoe)
“Welcome to the Jungle”

As you know, Babylonia is one of the later chapters of this Fate/Grand Order story arc and while each chapter of F/GO is fairly self-contained, there is an overarching narrative that each one builds up. I’ve been expecting Babylonia to give us some flashbacks for the sake of new viewers and here we are. However, a lot of these callbacks are presented without any context whatsoever so they less fill holes than just alert you that holes exist even as we’re stepping into them. There’s this ‘King of Mages’, he’s bad, we’re moving on. As for Lots of Fire and Suddenly Mozart… forget context. Know that our protagonists have had character development, we didn’t get to see any of it, but just trust that it Definitely Did Happen. Speaking of no context, I’ve been challenged to keep my paragraphs to at most six lines so if there are some arbitrary

breaks, you know why.

A good half of this episode (leading up to the trek to Ur) actually felt like various scenes of exposition stitched together; there’s a lot of information that still needs to be dumped on us. So a random prophet, a Chaldean Cup Collection there, and a lecture about demonic beasts that we don’t have time for. Here we see one of the main weaknesses of the F/GO game as a writing medium. It really is just a bunch of talking heads. This would normally just be visual novel but F/GO also knows that it’s supposed to be a game so it also needs to throw in a battle once in a while, interrupting its own flow. On top of that, it’s a smartphone game so it needs to cater to smartphone attention spans, with shorter strings of text and with a mind for the relatively brief play sessions of these games. And Nasu’s writing style is not exactly conducive to brevity.

What happens in practice is that while Babylonia is just as or even more information-dense as any similarly lengthed visual novel, it has to spread all of that out between many different scenes. It’s easier to parse that in the game, because it’s abstracted to text and talking heads, but when rendered into visuals in an anime adaptations it’s easier to see the cuts, so to speak. And here is where adapters need to do extra work. We didn’t come here to listen to Merlin or Roman wax on about mythological monster mechanics on their exposition radio show (for the record: would totally subscribe to the Merlin podcast). We’re here for anime. So, got to add a pretty sunset. Maybe some spooky effects to the Random Act of Kindness Karma Station. That is, this is a visual medium and the story should be told visually and flow visually. Well, ‘should’.

This is why I usually approve of adaptations taking liberaties with the source, because it’s an opportunity to do better and to take advantage of that we need to be flexible. In the game, the trip to Ur was mostly functional, an opportunity to dump information about beasts and goddesses and to introduce yet not explain the quack phenomenon that is Jaguarman. The anime uses its visual advantage to add a layer of emotion that the game lacks. This version of Ur has both rain and tears. Merlin gets time to indulge his serious face. And, perhaps most importantly, this became a character moment. A fight in which Ana gets kicked around once again demonstrates that Jaguarman may be a silly character but serious business. And while the protagonist in the game is equally passive and silent, in the anime he actually has to agonise over retreating.

Arguably any character they give Fujimura Ritsuka, up to and including his name, is a liberty of adaptation. In the game s/he is definitely of the Persona school of protagonist design i.e. not lacking in personality per se but lacking enough to be sufficiently malleable. The player is prompted to choose a line of dialogue on their behalf now and again but they’re still a self-insert in the end and is not about to do any introspection. So anything the anime gives Ritsuka is a plus (though let us remember that we all prefer our Links silent and the less said about the cartoon the better). So it’s actually this episode that has me feeling all-around positive about this adaptation. It’s true enough to the overall plot and narrative but it’s confident enough to mix things up to its benefit. That is, it can be its own thing. That’s what I hope for in adaptation.

October 26, 2019 at 10:09 pm
23 comments »
  • October 26, 2019 at 11:15 pmSuicuneSol

    AGREED. I literally said aloud, “Ooh, Ritsuka has character development. What a surprise.” It’s not great-great, but it’s more than I thought and that’s a good sign.

    Also, Jaguarman injected quite a bit of excitement into the show. Really needed it. All the characters have had really predictable dialogue so far, but not Jaguarman.

    Also really liked the cameos of other servants at the beginning (even if they were death cameos)

  • October 27, 2019 at 12:35 amGuile

    It feels weird that he’s suddenly got all this backstory and PTSD that wasn’t touched on in the previous ‘month’ of work in Uruk.

    • October 27, 2019 at 8:25 pmMockman

      Well, given what he was mostly up to over the course of the month — working alongside the very fetching Mashu, strolling to and fro with her under golden skies — I don’t see what would have triggered any negative responses on his part. As an aside, while they do give her a lot of artistic attention, it would have been fun if they’d let her hard work and the heat affect her appearance.

      Overall, this was one of those regurgitate episodes — spew stuff out in order to get to the parts of the story they want to spend time on (I hope). Jaguargirl brought a lot of electricity — really, the only juice the episode had.

  • October 27, 2019 at 1:13 amiRawrzz

    To me, Jaguarman is like a joke character even though she’s quite strong as a 3* servant.

    And yes!!! Finally some character development from Ritsuka. I had the same reaction as Ritsuka during that retreating scene. That feeling of frustration….

    Not sure if that’s a good move to include that King of Mages scene from the 4th singularity. I mean, he’s the reason behind all these singularities.

  • October 27, 2019 at 5:53 amMistic

    As an anime-only viewer, I must say that the introduction of Jaguarman was jarring.

    Don’t get me wrong: she’s funny, she’s nostalgic and the battles are a blast. But the tone shift is huge. At one moment, people are angsting about human sacrifice, the tyranny of the goddesses and the needs of the many; ten seconds later, they’re fighting a character that is basically a hyperactive Taiga in sneakers and jaguar pyjamas (not even a fantasy Mayincatec attire?). While “beware the silly ones” is a tried and tested trope, and they needed to showcase how dangerous a divinity is, it’s as if Jaguarman had dropped from a completely different story… while still talking about forced labor and eating hearts.

    What happens in practice is that while Babylonia is just as or even more information-dense as any similarly lengthed visual novel, it has to spread all of that out between many different scenes. It’s easier to parse that in the game, because it’s abstracted to text and talking heads, but when rendered into visuals in an anime adaptations it’s easier to see the cuts, so to speak.

    Yeah, I haven’t played the game, but even I can see where the “designated battle” moments take place.

    As for character development and flashbacks, I don’t know how much we’ll be able to see. Since they’re going to release the Camelot movie (it was the previous arc, wasn’t it?), I suppose they don’t want to spoil it too much.

    • October 27, 2019 at 1:12 pmPasserby

      I think the Jaguarman whiplash is an unfortunate side effect of cutting out most of the comedy from the ‘Sidequesting in Uruk’ portion of the story. Those were fairly silly as well so it wasn’t (as much) a tonal backflip in the game when Jaguarman showed up. The anime tries to make her a more serious character with the serious fight but it’s hard to get over the Taiga in Pajamas factor.

      • October 28, 2019 at 7:20 amMistic

        Yeah, I suppose it’s unavoidable with this kind of adaptation. That makes me want to play the game… which I understand is the real goal of an anime adaptation.

    • October 28, 2019 at 8:38 pmKristian64

      It is a good game all things considered, unless you are a collector or a completionist, then it becomes either an endless guilty pleasure or a stressful and expensive addiction. It is up to your Self-control. The game is completely manageable and fun to play with what it gives you for free or for participating in the events…But our mind´s Inner child/little Pokémon fan ideal of got to catch them all, we al want to have more and more… or maybe that’s just me.
      The bad part of the game is that the Gacha system is hellishly unfair and there is a lot of grinding.
      Show Spoiler ▼

  • October 27, 2019 at 8:38 amMami

    They skipped Gil’s cute gossipy house wife reactions, how unfortunate. And holy tonal whiplash, i don’t dislike Jaguarmsn but…she’s freaking Taiga in a onesie being a threat, its a bit abrupt. While i still prefer the Shimosa manga’s take on Gudako the most I don’t mind the bits of development they’re trying to give him

  • October 27, 2019 at 5:44 pmGreed

    https://randomc.net/image/Fate%20Grand%20Order/Fate%20Grand%20Order%20Zettai%20Majuu%20Sensen%20Babylonia%20-%2004%20-%20Large%2013.jpg
    So I assume main character hasn’t perform Palingenesis (Grail Ascension) yet. Dumb question, what does Palingenesis (Grail Ascension) do in terms of Lore? With one grail, like Othinus (Shinyaku Toaru Majutsu no Index.), can I create my own “ideal world”
    https://randomc.net/image/Fate%20Grand%20Order/Fate%20Grand%20Order%20Zettai%20Majuu%20Sensen%20Babylonia%20-%2004%20-%20Large%2026.jpg
    Only Shirou can control Taiga. Shame Shirou never summoned Taiga and did mana transfer with her. Anyway, dumb question, how did Taiga’s body get stuck in the past. I get she is “possessed” but why in the age of gods? Are “gods” not like Artemis and badly need a body to be on earth? Even in the age of gods?

    And, in the battle against Soloman in the first scene, which servants were shown? I think I saw Tamamo-caster and Kintoki, who was the third?

    • October 27, 2019 at 6:19 pmboingman

      I see Kintoki, Tamamo, Shakespeare and Mordred.

      • October 27, 2019 at 8:18 pmiRawrzz

        It’s Anderson not Shakespeare.

      • October 28, 2019 at 5:18 amboingman

        It’s clearly Shakespeare due to the boots (Andersen has normal shoes) and these round things however you call them on his left arm which you seen on his first two ascensions (Andersen has stripes).

      • October 28, 2019 at 5:25 amiRawrzz

        Whoops, sorry my bad. Went back and checked and yeah, you’re right. It’s Shakespeare. I thought I saw Andersen in his 3rd ascension form.

    • October 28, 2019 at 12:42 amSuicuneSol

      Regarding Taiga (And Rin, by extension)
      Show Spoiler ▼

      • October 28, 2019 at 9:03 amJ. Bencomo

        Okay, summoning a Spirit I can get, but the posessed body should still be alive. Is the Throne of the Heroes-Grail system supposed to work like that? Can one summon people who are still alive? If so, doesn’t that beat the whole purpose of having Heroic Spirits in the first place? Just summon the actual person from the past instead of a spiritual copy of them, which I thought was supposed to be impossible, but if this whole thing retcons it, then I frankly don’t know anymore…

      • October 28, 2019 at 12:31 pmSuicuneSol

        @J. Bencomo

        Show Spoiler ▼

        Show Spoiler ▼

        Show Spoiler ▼

    • October 28, 2019 at 8:59 amJ. Bencomo

      “Only Shirou can control Taiga.2

      Irisviel can control Taiga much better than Shirou. Granted, that was an amnesic, younger Taiga, but I’d still give Mama Iri good odds against the older Taiga. A pity they never get to interact in Prisma Illya, as far as I can remember.

      The question of how the bodies of Shirou, Rin, Taiga, et all, can be brought into the past for gods and other Servants to inhabit is never addressed, IIRC. I think that Ishtar and Ereshkigal are even supposed to be inhabiting the same Rin’s body, despite the different hair colors and the fact the Rin from EXTRA is a separate character from Stay Night Rin. Which only further muddles the waters on how now only Rin’s body is pulled out of her time period, but can be in two places at once controlled by different goddesses.

  • October 28, 2019 at 5:40 amChoya

    As a huge Taiga stan, it was nice to see how amusing Jaguarman was in the anime. It might come off as jarring compared to the anime’s subtle tone, but she did offer some levity in-between the heavier fights, especially with the comical tone of Gilgamesh forcing the party to meander from task-to-task in order to stretch the goal post further for having them prove themselves worthy of his attention. I’d be in trouble if another Taiga-face were to show up as a 4* or 5*.

    It is interesting to see the anime develop more on Ritsuka’s feelings though. You’re usually so enveloped in trying to finish a Singularity, clear through enemies, and read through the story that you aren’t given much time to reflect on those who have sacrificed themselves along the way. Olga feels like a distant memory at this point. But it gives Ritsuka more depth to be able to reflect on Olga and other servants who have given their lives for the sake of repairing Singularities.

  • October 28, 2019 at 7:35 amtheirs

    Seeing Taiga in pyjamas really killed of all seriousness for me. The fact that all the “sacrifices” are probably alive also toned down the gravity of Fujimura’s decision. Doesn’t really look like Ur has a problem right now.

    https://randomc.net/image/Fate%20Grand%20Order/Fate%20Grand%20Order%20Zettai%20Majuu%20Sensen%20Babylonia%20-%2004%20-%2029.jpg
    Seen these moves before, but can’t really pinpoint where. One of the Fate fighting games perhaps?

  • October 28, 2019 at 10:28 amYanDaMan

    It may be just me but so far the anime adaptation has been lacking in excitement. As a mobile game player I already know how everything unfolds, but watching events animated taken directly from the same script and pattern of the mobile game wasnt as exciting as I expected. The fight scenes also feels old really quickly, with the same formula being used since the first major fight since episode 1 (just Mash and Ana jumping around all over the place and getting smacked around).

    Here’s hoping when major plotpoints happen the anime becomes more exciting for me, but so far Im not really feeling it, its definitely not as fun as the other Fate anime adaptations.

    • October 28, 2019 at 5:33 pmBloodHunter

      Yeah I agree. I played the game as well but I think they would rather focus on servant vs servant rather than fighting monsters because that’s all we do in the game before we reach to any boss battle.

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